National Rifle Association-Backed
Amendment to Gun Industry Immunity Bill Would Repeal 28-Year-Old District
of Columbia Handgun Ban
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today condemned an effort by Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to repeal the District of Columbia's decades-old
handgun ban. The amendment is scheduled for a vote tomorrow, Tuesday,
March 2, as an amendment to a bill granting the gun industry limited immunity
from civil liability.
The Frist amendment
was first introduced in the Senate as free-standing legislation by Senator
Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The bill, S. 1414, and its House companion bill, H.R.
3193, sponsored by Representative Mark Souder (R-IN), were introduced
in July of 2003. In addition to overturning the 1976 DC handgun ban, the
legislation would restrict the DC City Council's authority to regulate
firearms by repealing the District's firearm registration requirement
and strip the District of its ban on semiautomatic weapons.
VPC Litigation Director
Matt Nosanchuk states, "Since its passage, repeal of the DC handgun ban
has been the NRA's Holy Grail. This effort is being undertaken without
regard for the safety or wishes of DC residents. The last thing District
residents want are more guns on their streets. If supporters of this measure
truly believe the NRA's rhetoric, then they should also repeal the ban
on firearms in the U.S. Capitol."
of the District's current ban on handgun possession is demonstrated by
the fact that virtually none of the guns used in crime in the District
originated here. Gun dealers in the District accounted for only three
percent of recovered crime guns in 2000. In contrast, 59 percent of traceable
DC crime guns were first purchased in Virginia and Maryland. Another 18
percent of DC crime guns were bought from gun dealers in North Carolina,
Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. All of these jurisdictions have
gun laws far more lenient than the District of Columbia's.
The VPC is part of
a coalition that is distributing thousands of red and white placards to
DC businesses and organizations stating "Keep the DC Handgun Ban," while
asking the question, "If the U.S. Capitol can be handgun free, why can't
DC?" Outraged by the home-rule implications of the attempt by Senators
to impose their will on DC residents who have no voting representation
in Congress, the coalition is actively raising awareness about the safety
and security threat the legislation represents for all DC residents and
For more information
about grassroots and community efforts to keep the DC handgun ban, please
visit the campaign website at www.handgunfreedc.org.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Monday, March 1, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122